Friday, May 25, 2012

Minis: J.L. Merrow, Annika Martin

Happy Friday! In the States we have a three day weekend coming up for Memorial Day. I'm ready!

I'm leaving you all with mini-impressions for two novellas I read this past week: one gay romance and one erotic romance. They both turned out to be solid enjoyable reads for me. Enjoy the minis and your weekend!


Hard Tail by J.L. Merrow (Click on title to read book summary)

I really enjoyed this gay romance between a 28 year old man who has been so deep in the closet his whole life (married and now separating from his wife) that friends and family think he's homophobic, until daily contact with a klutzy, lovely young man changes his mind and he decides to that maybe being "out" might be worth the risk.

So far I've enjoyed J.L. Merrow's characters, and Tim and Matt are no exception. The secondary characters, Jay, Tim's brother, and Adam, Matt's best friend stand out in this story. The main plot points are well rendered as Merrow tackles the subjects of closeted gay men, the different ways in which closeted gay men deal with their choice and situations, and on a related thread also features an abusive relationship.

However, don't be fooled, although those are serious subjects Merrow mixes them up with plenty of light and amusing moments: Tim's family takes the cake, the cat is hoot, the "grey pubes" moment is priceless, and I love Tim's internal dialog throughout the whole story, plus there's plenty of sexual tension and heat to go around. This is a solid and enjoyable read. Grade: B


The Hostage Bargain by Annika Martin (Click on title to read book summary)

I also enjoyed this erotic roller coaster about thrill seeker Melinda Prescott and the three bank robbers who kidnap her and at her request make her part of their gang. This story works well as an erotic contemporary with plenty of hot D/s threesome and one-on-one scenes, thrilling adventure moments, plenty of snappy, humorous dialog, and some voyeurism to top it all off.

The three bank robbers are only known by their "god" names: Thor, Odin and Zeus, and although Melinda takes the name Isis as her "god" name, there's a sense of mystery that comes with the men's anonymity that enhances the sexy edge in this story . This gang is all about trust, sex, and well... taking and enjoying the moment. This is the first of an erotic series by Annika Martin, also known as Carolyn Crane. A great start to a hot series! Grade: B


  1. I just read Muscling Through this week and it was so good. My only complaint was that it wasnt longer. I was looking at Hard Tail and thinking of getting it, so thanks for the review.

    I had no idea that Annika Martin was Carolyn Crane. No wonder it's getting good reviews. I'll have to check it out.

    1. Jen, Muscling Through was also my introduction to Merrow and the book that hooked me on her work. I also read Pricks and Pragmatism and enjoyed it -- the main characters from that book make an appearance in Hard Tail. Merrow has a knack for unusual characters or situations... I'm glad you enjoyed her work too.

      I expected The Hostage Bargain to be well written and to have that great dialog, but I was surprised at how hot the whole book turned out. It works really well as an erotic contemporary... there are two other books planned. It's a series with the same characters and I'm definitely reading the next one. :)

    2. I actually read Pricks and Pragmatism first, and then picked up Muscling Through, but it languished on Mt. TBR for awhile. Now I'm hooked and want to read more of her stories. I don't tend to read that much m/m, but I'm slowly starting to pick up some of the more well-known authors. I have to be in the right mood though.

    3. Jen, I'm not reading that many gay romances these days either, I read more gay fiction, gay spec fiction, and other sub-genres. But when I'm in the mood, I'm also picking and choosing my authors. Merrow is one of them. I'll continue to pick up her work. :)

  2. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

    Love the mini-impressions of boths books - am tempted by both :)

    1. Thanks, Orannia. They're both good reads. :)

  3. Hello Hilcia!
    I hope you're having a great sunday :)

    That story by JL Merrow seems good. One of my favorite gay short stories ever is by her. It's in the Sindustry anthology I, if I remember correctly. I forgot the name but it's a great story a bit beauty and the beast but it's great I loved it so much...
    The author seems to be someone who writes sweet stories quite well... ;)

    1. Hey Sonia! I'm having a good one, thank you, I hope yours is great too!

      Hard Tails is a good read... I definitely like how Merrow handled Tim's issues and particularly his ambivalence about coming out of the closet, his confusion when he finally did, and well... Tim's character was great all around. There are other issues in there too, but like I said above, Merrow throws in some light moments to lighten up the story, and I appreciated that aspect of it too.

      I have Sindustry in my TBR but have NOT read it yet. Now I"m going to look for Merrow's story in there! Thanks for the heads up on that one.

    2. Hi! Yes, you should try it!
      I've read both Sindustry anthologies a long time ago and JL Merrow has stories in both, but my favorite it's definitively the one in the first anthology.
      Ok, so went and checked my files to look for the title, in the 1st anthology JL's story is "As Beauty Does". It's amazing!!
      In Sindustry vol.2 her story is "Sunshine". It's also beautiful but not in the same way, I found it more sad than "As Beauty Does" (which is more romantic).
      I hope you can read both one day and then tell me which one you preferred!

    3. I have to check my TBR to see if I have both Sindustry anthologies or just one, and if so which one! I will definitely let you know. :) Hopefully it's that first anthology. *g*

      Thanks for the recommendation. Hugs!

  4. Just found out CJ is Annika Martin! Love the premise & will definitely give it a try.

    1. Leslie, yes, it's CJ. :) This is a really erotic piece with great lines... fun and adventurous. Hope you enjoy it too.


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